Roderick Strong first won me as a fan when he spit in Davey Richards' face a couple of years ago. Strong always looks poised for a wedding picture, even in his silky blue trunks, but right beneath the classy veneer he's a brute and sniveling coward. I like that, by which I mean to say I am irresistibly drawn to this type, excited by it, feeling a strong urge to pounce and pummel.
My senior year in college I was in a play with this guy--virtually poreless skin, pink lips, the face of a Disney cartoon prince. Always in a pressed shirt, silk tie, and form-fitting year-round wool. One evening during a late rehearsal we stepped outside into the cold air. Out of nowhere he says to me, "I know you'd like to take a swing at me. I can see it in your eyes. Go ahead. Punch me." I often say I have no regrets, but honestly there's at least this one: that I did not rough this guy up. He was literally asking for it, and out of a sense of Christian niceness (I was at a religious institution) I let the moment pass. Ah well. But several times I have played the scene out differently in my imagination. Sometimes I convince myself that I actually did bust his mouth.
A couple of days ago I complimented BG East's Beau Nasty for perfecting the same character type. It's the tack I would recommend for Thunder's Arena's Z-Man, too. At his best moments, Z-Man projects a fussy priggishness that suggests he has the potential to be another Roderick Strong. BGE newby Dylon Roberts could probably fill this mold, as well. Trent Novak at Rock Hard Wrestling, ditto--at least he's got the chiseled aristocratic features (to match his chiseled torso). And Aron at UCW could get an $80 haircut and take some notes too.
They would all have a ways to go to match Strong, though. The guy looks full of himself even when he isn't trying. He's a subtler, more believable (thus more antagonizing) version of Gorgeous George's flamboyance or Rick Martel's model gimmick. And he also knows that the real purpose of Chris Hero's long dirty-blond hair is to yank and twist it and drag him across the ring by it. Strong slaps a face with all the impudence of an Italian duelist. He uses the ropes to his advantage and acts all-innocent when the ref calls him on it. And he will spit in Davey Richards' face--that takes a ton of chutzpah--and not just little baby spit, either, but a giant roll of snot-slobber that goes bigsplat. That's class!
Of all the wrestlers I know of, Strong is the one you might most want to take out behind the barn. Anyway, I do.
Check out Scott Finkelstein's terrific photos of last Friday's Ring of Honor show in New York, including many more of Strong and Hero, as well as nearly 2000 fantastic shots of Richards, Cedric Alexander, Eddie Edwards, the Briscoes, Shelton Benjamin, Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Kenny King, the Young Bucks, and more.